When it comes to deer minerals, there are a whole plethora of options on the market that you can buy and just pour on the ground, or something along the lines of a trophy rock that you set in a designated location. But if your anything like me and run multiple mineral sites, it can get expensive in a hurry. Today I'm going to outline in detail how I make my mineral sites, along with how I maintain them, and why I even use them in the first place.
Lets start with the why. What's the point of using a mineral site in the first place? There's quite a few ways to answer this question, but when it comes down to it, I use them to get deer in front of my trail camera. Sure they can be beneficial to deer health, but the biggest takeaway for me is it is a cost effective way to get deer to swing by a trail camera and keep inventory of your bucks. In some cases, I will use the mineral site to pattern a buck if I'm going to try and shoot him during early season (if it is legal to hunt over in your state). Creating a mineral site on the edge of a food source is in most cases, my favorite setup. In that particular instance, a buck (or any deer you want to shoot) will be more inclined to visit the mineral site before heading out to the primary feeding area for the evening. So at a high level perspective, that's why I use mineral sites. After you decide you want to make your own mineral site, it may seem pretty easy to do, but I like to do everything detailed to get the most out of what I'm making.
Before doing anything else, picking a location for your mineral site is equally important as the rest of the process. Having an area that deer frequent is a must. Like I said earlier, the edge of a food source is my favorite location. Once you pick a location, it's time to get to work. The recipe I use doesn't have to be followed exactly, I've taken combinations from multiple recipes and tweaked it how I've found to be the most productive. I combine, in a big bucket of some sort, two parts stock salt (ice cream salt) and one part trace mineral (the red colored mineral). You can get these at your local feed store or tractor supply. With a rough estimate, I would put about 30 pounds of stock salt into the bucket, with 15 pounds of trace mineral. This part can vary for you, depending how many mineral sites you run. Based on the fact that I have quite a few, I opt to do a lower poundage and refresh them sooner. After combining those in a bucket, I mix it around and haul it to my designated location.
Once you've reached your location of choice, you'll need to dig a hole. The rule of thumb I try to shoot for is 36 inches in diameter and 6-8 inches deep. It usually doesn't end up that perfect, but that's what I strive for. After digging the hole, work the soil around a bit to loosen it up. After working the soil, pour half of your mixed mineral into the hole. Work that into the soil very well. Remember, the deer are going to be more or less eating the dirt, not the physical mineral you pour into the hole. The better mixed it is with the soil, the better it will soak into the ground, and the longer you will be able to go without refreshing it. Once you have half of the mixture mixed in with the dirt, pour the rest in the hole, and mix it well once again. You will probably need to add some of the dirt from when you dug the hole to mix it with. After it's mixed well, your all good to go. If you want to make it a little more attractive, something that I have found works very well, is to add about a quarter of a bag of trophy rock four 65. All it is, is the ground up version of a trophy rock. The last thing I do, is sprinkle a bottle of water over it to ignite the process of the mineral soaking into the dirt. The last thing you have to do is get a trail cam up over the mineral site to monitor the deer activity at your mineral site.
Even though this mineral site will soak into the ground, it won't last forever. Every three to six months, come back with another mixture and mix it in with the soil. This will ensure that deer keep using the site, and will be beneficial year round.
Establishing and maintaining mineral sites is one of my favorite things to do in the spring and summer. I like to get my trail cameras up over them in April and watch my bucks grow from nubs to full blown antlers. If you don't make them yet, give it a try this year, and see how you like it. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.